Not too long ago, many of us were eagerly waiting for the recovery to set in, when we'd be working more, with more stable hours, better income and - we assumed - a much-improved quality of life. 

Happily, research shows that our average income in Ireland has increased so one box is ticked. However, the means by which we get that extra money in our pocket is quite different from the work environment of 20 years ago and brings with it its own pernicious consequences. 

According to a recent ESRI study, which assessed the stress levels of a number of EU countries, stress levels have soared above any other country, with job stress doubled between 2010 and 2015.

Speaking to Sean O'Rourke yesterday morning, mental health specialist Dr Harry Barry said that he was "not surprised by this", given what he’s seeing in his own practice.

"When the depression was over, there was kind of a massive ramping up of economic growth in this country", he explained, noting that more and more people took on extra jobs. This, naturally, added to street congestion and traffic, a perennial source of daily stress for many of us.

"As a result of the increased expectations, increased workloads, the huge amount of pressure being put on people to deliver, it was inevitable the stress would start to appear."

The physical symptoms of stress, as seen by Dr Barry, include fatigue sleep difficulties, cognitive problems and mood changes, which - ironically - add to more stress in work as people are unable to perform to the best of their abilities.

Dr Barry says the problem has become even more widespread in the past 6 to 12 months, adding that you’re 21 times more likely to experience job stress if you have angry clients or are required to hide your emotions and this causes serious problems in the body.

"All of those things build up to massive internal emotions like hurt and anger and frustration and sometimes a lot of anxiety, you know.  What happens is all those emotions spill out and we start pouring out the cortisol into our bloodstream and we begin to get all the physical symptoms of what we call ‘toxic stress’ or ‘chronic stress’ and of course that increases our risk of heart disease and depression."

To listen back to their conversation, click the link above.